Daily Divulge: That’s Refreshing

I’ve been falling behind lately.

Personal stuff is dragging me down, for the most part. Also, we switched back to mornings at the bookstore, so I’m still adjusting to the new schedule. Well, scrambling to try and figure out a whole new schedule to replace the perfectly good one that I used to have.

So I’ve been kind of listless with my writing. I’d also basically run out of ideas for things to work on. I spent a couple of days cranking out this thin, awful short story about telepaths. I may not even finish it properly. It will certainly live out its days hidden in the depths of my hard drive.

I don’t know, it was something to write.

So anyway, I need to crank out 2435 words today in order to catch up. And considering today is Day 96, I really want to catch up!

I was dragging my feet for a while. I started working on a new story about Deirdre, and the most wonderful thing happened. I was writing and writing and writing, and then I happened to glance down at the counter…BAM! 1159 words down. Like nothing. That hasn’t happened in a long time, and I’m so relieved it did. Lately, writing has been like pulling teeth (which I shouldn’t joke about, since I’m pretty sure I’m in dire need of a dentist’s drill.)

Gonna take a short break for a bit, get some caffeine. We have to do an overnight inventory on Sunday, so I get to shift BACK to the night-owl gig for one day, and then back to morning zombie. Hooray.

(People really need to stop asking me “How are you?” at five AM. I’m fucking tired!)

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Hands or Keys: How Do You Write?

When I was eight, I became friends with a boy who went to the same after-school care and happened to live in the same apartment complex. I went over to his house to play almost every day. One day, I got there and he had something new: a typewriter. Well, I’m pretty sure it was an old typewriter, but whatever. We played around with it. I caught my finger between typewriter keys for the first time. Mashed keys until they all got stuck in the middle together. Wound paper into it and started typing nonsense.

That was around the time I started writing. So maybe that’s why I was so hypnotized with the thing. This kid had an enviable Lego collection, but I still remember that typewriter. The unique clacking of the keys. The grinding of the wheel. The ding when you hit the end of the line. The pain when the bottom edges of the keys scraped up my cuticle.

Writing technology hasn’t changed all that much. Sure, we have access to fancy word processors now that have spell check and fancy fonts. I even have Word on my new phone, so once I figure out how to use the whole cloud-storage thing, I can type where ever. But we still have pens and paper, and typewriters are trendy.

So which do we use, as writers?

Just like with everything other bit of writing “advice” I’m going to talk about, aside from the universals I’ve already discussed, this is just about my experience and opinion. If you want to try it, great, go for it. If you think it’s dumb, cool, doesn’t bother me. Some writers will only type on computers, others just hand-write, and others do a mix.

I’m in the “mixed” category here, for several reasons.

There’s something almost primal about writing things out by hand. Like my physical connection to the words is closer when the words are coming from a pen, shaped by the fine movements of my hand, when compared to words typed on a screen. This is especially true for first drafts. I feel closer to the characters, to their words, to the action.

However, as much as I would love to write an entire first draft by hand, I physically can’t. I have problems with inflammation in various tendons (which, yes, is as fun as it sounds.) One of the super-fun manifestations of this is pain in my wrists and elbows when I do fine, repetitive movements over long periods of time.

I also harbor a deep, deep hatred of transcribing handwritten text onto a computer. Scooping-out-my-eyes-with-rusty-spoons kind of hatred.

Typing is wonderfully convenient. And not just because the typing motions don’t set off my angry tendons. It’s faster. Far faster. On an average day, I can bust out 1000 words an hour on a keyboard. I’ve never really timed myself with handwriting (I don’t have the patience to count all those words) but I can promise you, it’s far less than 1000 words an hour.

There are also all the other conveniences, such as being able to go back and delete or add things, and spell check (unless you’re me and stuck with a Word program that’s got a funky spell checker that pretends to work,) and being able to keep thousands of pages all together in a relatively small space. Digital files are also much easier to share, and necessary if you want to submit a manuscript anywhere.

So I compromise. I do a bit of both. I hand-write all my prep work. Character ideas, plot points, test scenes, background scenes, research notes, random questions to ponder, thematic ideas…whatever comes up. It allows me to feel that closer connection to my characters while they’re developing, but it limits the damage to my wrists. And then I type up the drafts on the computer. When I’m done a draft, I usually print it to edit by hand.

Of course, I still want a typewriter. Michael’s has one for $200. Too bad I have a long list of things that I need to spend $200 on first. Oh well.

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Daily Divulge: Catching-Up (Again)

I fell behind again yesterday, but with good reason! I spent my time editing the mermaid piece, and when I was done that, I had no creative juice left.

But I found it today. So I’m caught up, and well on my way to finishing another short story, one I’ve been playing around with off and on for years. It’s a background piece for Deirdre, my shaman character, so it’s never been that important before. Well, not important that I write it down, I mean. It’s important to her, important that I keep it in mind when I’m writing her, but not…on its own.

Until now. With my jewelry, I make a line of stone chip bracelets and necklaces that are inspired by Deirdre and her shamanic work. And I’ve been toying with the idea of selling copies of my short stories, sealed up in envelopes, at markets and online. Well, mostly online. But then I got the idea to write about Deirdre, because then I could bring the inspiration for the line to my market table. It’ll be short stories, maybe a serial novella. Probably all before the events of the first novel. At this point, anyway. Who knows. If I get that novel polished and sent off and someone decides to publish it, maybe I’ll write smaller stories, the ones that happen in between the big ones.

Huh. I’ve toyed with the idea of signing up on Patreon, but never went through with it because I felt I couldn’t offer anything interesting, primarily to the lower price brackets. Most of the people I’ve seen on Patreon can draw, so they provide digital images or whatever. The one I support has special stickers that she sends out every month. But maybe I can do the same thing with the stories.

Something to consider, I guess. Not that I really have the sort of following to make Patreon worth it. But it would force me to write more. Which is not a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all.

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Daily Divulge: Another Short Story Down

…maybe. I’m not entirely happy with it. It’s supposed to be in the horror genre, so I need to boost that up a few thousand notches, I think. But I’ve got less than 500 words left to play with, as the submission call is for stories 4000-5000 words.

I think I know where I can add it. But since I’ve already done 1500 words, I’ll work on that tomorrow.

I should also do more research on what it’s like to drown.

I have errands to run today. Need a new phone and pants without holes in them.

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Daily Divulge: Back on Track

It’s been a rough week. Inflammation in my ribs. A head cold. Death-coughs. Anxiety. Annoying cat.

Needless to say, I fell way behind. But the last two days have been good. I’m all caught up! I’ve been working on a couple of short stories that I’m aiming to submit to anthologies, and tossing around ideas for larger projects to keep me busy.

One of the short stories is basically done. Just leaving it untouched for a couple of days before I come back to it for a final edit. But it needs a title, and I suck at titles.

The other short story is way longer, and I had a few false starts with it, but now it’s clicking along nicely. It’s actually a prequel to one of the novel ideas I’m kicking around.

Goodness, it feels good to be productive again.

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Daily Divulge: One Story Down

I just barely eked out my word count today. 1002 words. I had to do a little scrambling, because I “finished” the short story needing about 100 more words, and didn’t feel like starting a new one for such a paltry count. So I fluffed a bit. Which I think it turned out fine. My first drafts tend to be a little spare, anyway.

I just have to remember to write in present tense for these characters. I’m so used to past tense that I keep slipping up.

Oh well. On to work.

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Daily Divulge: On To New Things

So I didn’t get any helpful advice from the writing group. Just frustration.

I’m ending the first part on a cliffhanger. I have to. If I keep writing on this project, I will move from shaky ground into dangerous obsession/compulsion. I know too well what’s coming next. I need to shift gears and work on something new, something less familiar. Something that makes me slow down and think as I write instead of just rushing through all the images crowding around in my brain.

So I’m working on some short stories. I have three planned-ish. All involving the same unnamed couple (but I kind of like the effect this series has, with them being unnamed.) They should keep me busy for a few days while I do some research and development on some other novel-length projects. Today was, after all, Day 64. Another 36 days left in this round, and then eight weeks until NaNo.

I think that, after NaNo, I’m going to switch gears to editing and writing second drafts. Maybe do a combination of both. 500 words a day on a new project, and then, say, an hour or two a day editing and rewriting. Working on all these projects doesn’t get me very far if I don’t at least try to get something polished up for submission.

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Daily Divulge: Done Already

So I wound up taking a late nap yesterday, and I’m still awake, so…my writing is done, and it’s not even 2am. It’s been done for about twenty minutes, actually. I had to post in a writing group looking for some opinions.

Remember how I said I can’t drag on this current project for another 38 more days? Haha, yeah…I think it’s done. But I’m not sure. I’m torn over two possible break points, and I’ve hit the first one. So I’m going to stop for now and switch gears to something else until I decide.

What would be better, a cliff-hanger or a simple mystery?

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Daily Divulge: And It’s Ramping Up

I’m trying to be good today. I did my writing to music instead of binge-watching Netflix.

Even made it out for a grocery run (and nearly sweated to death. Stupid Alberta.)

Today is going to be a good day, I’ve decided.

Anyway, plunging into the climax now. Cillian’s been snatched, and Leila is charging off to find him.

However, there’s no way I’m going to be able to stretch this out for another 38 days. I need to find a different project to work on until NaNo. Maybe Cassandra and Damien? Decisions for later.

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A Year of Writing Challenges

So if you’ve noticed my little blog at all before, you’ll have seen my daily ramblings about my writing progress and writing life. I’ve been avoiding an explanation of what exactly I’m up to, in anticipation of this post.

I wrote two weeks ago about writing tips, and mentioned that writing daily is one of the best things you can do for your craft. It doesn’t matter how you do it. Go to a cafe or stay home. Set a progress goal or schedule a block of time. Whatever works for you. As long as you do it.

What I’ve been trying for the last year started as a spur-of-the-moment thing. I was attempting NaNo this past November. As usual, I was falling behind with my word count. (I work retail. November is a rough time of year for retail employee.) So I decided that even if I didn’t hit 50k, I wasn’t going to give up halfway through the month. Because that’s what I always do. So as long as I write at least a few words every day for the entire month, I was going to count it as a win. As progress.

As November came to an end, I was succeeding. And I wanted to push harder.

I came across a free download for a printable chart. The goal was to write every day for 100 days. You’d cross off every day on the chart. The idea was that by the end of the 100 days, writing daily would be a habit.

So I decided to go for 100 days straight. Any amount of writing. Some days, that meant 1000+ words. Others, it was a single sentence. I didn’t keep track, but I averaged about 200-300 words a day, at least.

I finished the entire first draft of my NaNo project. Hit 50k partway through December, and then finished it shortly afterward. I started working on yet another draft of my shaman project.

I took a day off. (I needed it. On Day 100, I worked until 2am at the bookstore, was at my mom’s store from 10am until 5pm, and then I was back at the book store for another 9-2 shift. I was exhausted.)

And then I started another 100 days. This time, I had to write at least 500 words. If I wrote more than that, great. If I fell behind, I had to catch up the next day (even if my net total was up.) It gave me a chance to experiment. Writing as soon as I woke up, before I even got out of bed. Writing before I fell asleep. Writing while watching movies.

I learned a few interesting things in the process. I worked more efficiently with the TV off. So that meant either listening to music or in bed. I can bust out 500 words in about half an hour. And if I don’t start my day by writing, everything else goes screwy. (I have some mild-ish obsessive tendencies and like lists and routines.)

I kept track of my word count for that round. Over 100 days, I wrote 59, 113 words. I wound up switching from the shaman to an aborted NaNo project (I think I’ve mentioned it way back in my archives, about Dassyr the Trickster.) It was during this time that I had some serious problems with Novlr. I finished the draft a few days early, and spent some time bouncing around a few short stories and poking at another novel-length project that I’d hardly started.

So I’m now on to my third round. This time, I’m aiming for 1000 words a day. I kept bouncing around for a while, finishing up incomplete short stories. I struggled to hit 1000 words a day because I was lacking focus.

And then I ran out of short stories to finish. And I couldn’t think of any more to start.

The only thing I wanted to work on was the novel I was planning to do for NaNo. It’s the first part in a duology (possibly longer, I haven’t decided) that has its origins in the Beauty and the Beast story. With kink and witches and stuff.

So I changed my plans. I’ll be working on part two for NaNo. I’m actually almost done part one now.

The good part is that writing every day is a habit now. The bad part is that I think it’s crossing over into “compulsion” territory. When I have a bad day (like I have been all week,) I don’t want to do anything but write. I try to stop once I’ve hit my goal, so that I have somewhere to pick up the next day. But on bad days? Stopping is torture.

This might not sound all that bad, but when you’re trying to get a home business to thrive and do simple things like keeping up with dishes, not being able to focus on anything but writing is rough.

That being said, I’d rather obsess over writing than other things.

Anyway, when this round is done (39 days left, including today) I will have several weeks until NaNo starts. No clue what I’m going to do during those weeks. Write something, obviously.

I’ve got 39 days to figure out what.

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